RI Commerce’s Pryor Concerned About RI Job Loss if Partners Buys Care New England

Friday, January 26, 2018


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Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor raises concerns about Partners moving job s to MA

The battle over the future of Rhode Island’s healthcare future took a number of significant turns on Thursday when Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor raised serious concerns about the adverse impact that Partners HealthCare's purchase of Care New England (CNE) could have on the Rhode Island economy.http://www.golocalprov.com/news/new-trinitys-joe-wilson-jr.-to-broadway-as-denzel-washington-understudy

Pryor made the comments during his appearance on GoLocal LIVE in an interview with News Editor Kate Nagle.

Commerce Secretary Pryor Raises Questions

Just hours before Pryor’s comments, Partners announced that ir was moving forward in the process of entering into a "definitive agreement" with the financially struggling CNE.

“This [Partners acquisition of CNE] is of concern. That doesn’t mean it won’t ultimately resolve in a way that’s good for Rhode Island, but we need to track it closely," said Pryor on LIVE. "My departments are not the regulators per se. There could be an element that ultimately comes before us. But still we have to be cautious as the state and the Governor’s administration ultimately needs to approve."

“That being said, thousands of jobs are at issue, important healthcare jobs. And the healthcare access of Rhode Islanders is at issue. Rhode Islanders shouldn’t have to go north to get their healthcare.  They shouldn’t have to find their way to specialty care,” said Pryor, whose comments are similar to Brown University President Christina Paxson who has come out in strong opposition to the Partners and CNE deal. 

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“We need to be very careful about analyzing any deal here. If Brown has concerns, Brown is an academic partner to multiple healthcare institutions in the state, and multiple hospitals in Rhode Island, including the Care New England system -- we need to be mindful of that, because it means the quality of our care could be at risk if Brown is not a key collaborator with whatever results," said Pryor. "It also means that the research and development — the R&D — that churns out of these medical institutions -- could be at risk."

Paxson has warned that the impact of Partners on the Rhode Island economy and jobs would be detrimental.

“I feel strongly that letting this acquisition go forward would be wrong for Rhode Island and for Brown. Doing so is likely to lead to specialty healthcare shifting to Massachusetts, impeding access to healthcare for Rhode Islanders and especially for members of the state’s underserved communities,” Paxson wrote in a letter to the Brown community that was released to the public and media.

“We want those jobs, we want the ventures in the bio-science space to stay in Rhode Island, so there’s a lot to pay attention to — and we are going to pay attention,” added Pryor.

He also discussed Rhode Island’s economy, the troubled PawSox deal and the Speaker’s position, and new initiatives by Commerce to support small businesses.


Related Slideshow: 7 Implications and Unintended Consequences of a Care New England and Partners Merger

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Providence does not usually do well in mergers

Remember Providence Gas, Fleet Bank, and Narragansett Electric?

Big employers, deep community involvement, and significant charitable donors — all were consumed and in each case, the number of employees left in Rhode Island by the succeeding company is a fraction of the once independent venture.

To the victor goes the spoils.

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As if the Boston economy isn't good enough, and the Providence economy couldn't be more stagnant

The cityscape of Boston is littered with cranes. Boston Business Journal maps the construction projects utilizing cranes in Boston (see image) and the number of projects is staggering. 

In Providence, there few construction projects and not a crane to be seen. The last thing Providence needs is for another one of its largest employers to be merged into a Boston mega-organization. The likelihood is that jobs will be lost or consolidated to Boston - basic functions like purchasing, accounting, etc. will be lost. 

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Harvard beats Brown in Ivy League match-up

Harvard Medical School is ranked as the #1 research-based institution in America by U.S. News and World Report.

Partners Healthcare’s academic partner is Harvard.

In contrast, Care New England’s academic affiliation is with the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Brown’s best ranking is 21st for primary care - and is ranked for research way back at #31.

One of the biggest losers in the merger could be Brown's medical school.

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Care New England is RI’s 2nd largest employer, so what will It be in 2 Years?

According to the RI Department of Labor and Training, Care New England is Rhode Island’s second largest employer.

Lifespan is the largest: 12,050

Care New England: 8,500

CVS: 7,800

Cities like "Meds and Eds" (the medical and educational business segments), but Providence and all of Rhode Island is likely to lose high paid, highly educated jobs as a result of this deal.

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Care New England Continues to Struggle

Despite hopes that closing Memorial Hospital would solve the financially beleaguered Care New England's economic woes, new financial documents unveil that CNE continues to struggle.

Additionally, the pursuer - Partners HealthCare - is also making cuts. The Boston Globe unveiled the Partners is cutting about 100 of the company’s tech workers that their jobs were being outsourced to India to cut costs.

“Many of the employees have worked for Partners for several years, or even decades, and are struggling with the company’s decision. Almost all are coders — people who scour patients’ medical records to pinpoint billable services — and earn upward of $40 an hour. Coders in India earn a fraction of that amount, making overseas coding an attractive way for hospitals to cut costs,” wrote the Boston Globe.

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Can the unions battle?

Within hours of GoLocal breaking the news of the merger, the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) President Linda McDonald, RN, released the following statement today:

"This proposed merger has the ability to impact thousands of jobs and the quality of care in Rhode Island and should be thoroughly scrutinized. Like most Rhode Islanders, we only recently learned of this proposal but expect Care New England and Partners HealthCare to be transparent in their process and begin a conversation with our union about the effect any deal would have on our members and our patients.  

Memorial Hospital provides critical care to scores of Blackstone Valley residents every year and preserving its status as a fully-functioning community hospital will be among our top priorities as this process continues to unfold. 
The onus is now on Care New England, Partners HealthCare and Prime Healthcare Services to make the details of this proposal public and to do it quickly so that workers, patients and state regulators may begin asking the appropriate questions."

The nurses represents nearly 1,400 registered nurses, CNAs, ER techs, surgical techs, orderlies, endo techs, environmental employees and ancillary staff at Kent and Memorial hospitals.  But, will they have any impact on the decisions?

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Speaking of Lifespan - will they be forced to merge with a Boston partner?

Lifespan is having its financial challenges too. While Care New England lost $53 million last year, Lifespan's losses were $40 million. The Lifespan losses were smaller proportionately to the healthcare group's overall budget and it does not have the cash crunch that Care New England was battling.

In February, Lifespan announced it had has entered into another Boston Hospital agreement. This agreement with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a long term agreement with the goal of advancing cancer treatment and research. Lifespan previously entered into an agreement with New England Medical Center and that deal led to years of protracted litigation to unwind. Lifespan also ran into a legal battle with Tufts Medical Center.

Will Partners' potential arrival in the market force Lifespan to affiliate?


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